Local expert talks Central California courses

Ask the Local Golf Advisor: Central California's Tate Alt on Cali's unsung region

California is atop our country's most trafficked states for tourism. But even so, it has plenty of off-the-beaten-path places to visit. There may be no more unsung region than Central California, which lacks the population bases of Los Angeles or San Francisco, but has plenty to discover both inland and on the coasts.

And for locals, the region is even better, because you're within an easy drive of virtually all of the state's must-play courses (if, for example, a last-minute invite to Cypress Point comes calling).

We asked our Local Golf Advisor from Central California, Tate Alt, about what it's like to be a golfer here. You can talk golf with Tate, a single-digit-handicapper on Twitter at @CenCalHack and browse his reviews on his Golf Advisor profile page, which to date features 75 reviews.

What's to like about being a golfer in central/inland California compared to the state's other, more famous golf regions?

There are many good aspects of being a golfer in Central California. Low-cost golf is plentiful and rarely do we pay the $100-plus weekend fees that are prevalent in metro areas. The smaller population base and fewer golfers means tee times are almost always available. Fewer golfers give us faster rounds compared to the five-hour-plus marathons that plague the L.A. and S.F. areas on weekends. We are also within day trip distance of both Los Angeles and San Francisco when we want to play any courses in those regions.

What are some great courses in your area that might not be household names nationally?

In the Central Valley, Ridge Creek Dinuba Golf Club and Dragonfly Golf Club are two courses that I recommend for play, both courses offer strong challenges and secluded locales. Visitors going to Yosemite or Kings Canyon-Sequoias National Parks can access both easily.

Our summer escape from the heat takes us west to the coast. There are a number of fine courses in the area. Morro Bay has exceptional views and low fees. Cypress Ridge and Monarch Dunes (make sure to play the par-3 Challenge course) are strong designs with good conditioning. Hunter Ranch in the Paso Robles wine country is a fantastic course that is my favorite in the area. It has a great design that requires a wide variety of shots and is typically in top condition. The clubhouse is beautiful and offers views on par with the delicious food. The wine tasting and tours available around Paso Robles makes for a great golf/couples weekend.

La Purisima might be the true hidden gem. It is a bit farther south, but it is worth the drive. A SoCal and CenCal favorite, it is extremely challenging when the wind blows which is virtually always in the afternoon.

I would add Stevinson Ranch as my favorite in the valley but, RIP.

Tate's reviews: Morro Bay | Ridge Creek at Dinuba | Dragonfly Golf Club

There are plenty of splurges in California. What high-end courses in your opinion are worth every penny? Do any fall short?

Pebble Beach comes to mind when considering must play "splurges" in California. Is it worth it? Absolutely. In my opinion, the chance to play where there is so much history combined with views and a great course makes it a must play. Other high-end, must-play destinations in California have never given me the same sense of satisfaction. I won’t mention names because taste and value are relative. Cypress Point of course could charge any price they wished and I would go back as often as possible, unfortunately the one time will have to suffice…for now.

Any favorite restaurants or bars we should check out in any favorite cities/destinations near you?

A few restaurants are worth recommending. In Fresno, Westwood’s BBQ is my favorite in an area where good cue is scarce.

Locals love a good bowl of Pho and there are many mom and pop places that offer tasty versions. The more adventurous might want to try a taco truck, pick one with a crowd and order a variety of tacos to sample.

On the coast, a sourdough bowl of chowder at Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach is both a local and tourist favorite.

Brandon Tucker is the Sr. Managing Editor for GolfPass and was the founding editor of Golf Advisor in 2014, he was the managing editor for Golf Channel Digital's Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and nearly 600 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at @btuck34.
0 Comments

Related Links

If you're flying into San Francisco and making your way toward San Diego for four or five days, what golf courses should you play? That's what one reader from Maine wanted to know, and Mike Bailey offers up some advice for affordable golf as well as bucket-list choices.
3 Min Read
The 2015 U.S. Senior Open at Del Paso Country Club from June 22-28 will finally give Sacramento, Calif. the golf spotlight it so craves. Golf Advisor takes a look at some of the best plays in Sac Town.
4 Min Read
You can play golf and ski on the same day at Greenhorn Creek Resort in California's Calaveras County. Jason Deegan visited this Gold Country getaway in the Sierra Nevada mountain foothills.
4 Min Read
More from the author
5 Min Read
December 7, 2021
It may be the private club capital of Florida, but golfers endorse these public-access courses.
4 Min Read
December 3, 2021
It's never been easier to design custom hats, golf balls, clubs, headcovers and more.
2 Min Read
November 30, 2021
It's possible this little ditty finds you scooping up the last bit of cranberry pie crumbs out of the tray. Thanksgiving may have passed but the effects of celebratory eating around the table, and also possibly social imbibing during all the various football games throughout the weekend, are sticking with us. To our bellies and elsewhere.
4 Min Read
November 23, 2021
We scoured the web of golf and found holiday savings up to 50% off.
12 Min Read
November 18, 2021
Golfers can choose from a wide variety of portable launch monitor price points and user experiences. Here is what's new and the best ones to consider to improve your golf.
7 Min Read
November 9, 2021
Our community loves the value and experience at these popular and affordable military facilities and even book online.
Popular
25 Images
July 27, 2022
Time off from school and work means more time on the greens!
5 Min Read
July 25, 2022
Dundonald's new luxury accommodations and clubhouse complement a Kyle Phillips-designed links that has hosted men's and women's Scottish Opens.
6 Min Read
August 8, 2022
A looming U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier requires some advance preparation.
4 Min Read
July 27, 2022
Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail was decades ahead of the current par-3 course boom. Now, the trail is modifying one of its short courses with an eye on the future.
Load More
Now Reading
Ask the Local Golf Advisor: Central California's Tate Alt on Cali's unsung region